Affective Disposition, or: Reading Spinoza With Foucault. Towards an Affect Theory of Subjectivation and Power

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See all articles by Rainer Mühlhoff

Rainer Mühlhoff

Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin); Freie Universität Berlin

Date Written: January 25, 2020

Abstract

This article introduces the concept of an ‘affective disposition’ to describe how subjectivation and power in the sense of Michel Foucault are operative at the level of inter-affectivity. As an example, I will discuss how the performative constitution of gender (Judith Butler) procedes through the emergence of local ‘affective hegemonies’ that are entangled with discourse. While the ‘turn to affect’ in social and cultural theory sees affect partially as an alternative approach to post-structuralist analyses of discursive subjectivation, I argue that affect can in fact refine such analyses to account for ‘affective subjectivation’ in micro social and group contexts. For this purpose, I will use Baruch Spinoza’s conception of affect which is directly linked to a concept of power. While Foucault is blind to affect and Spinoza has no concept of discursive power, this paper shows how both approaches can be combined.

Keywords: Baruch Spinoza, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, Dispositions, Affect, Affect Studies, Performativity of Gender, Power and Subjectivation, Gender Studies, Performativity, post-structuralism

Suggested Citation

Mühlhoff, Rainer, Affective Disposition, or: Reading Spinoza With Foucault. Towards an Affect Theory of Subjectivation and Power (January 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

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